The pandemic and subsequent recovery have hammered the global travel industry. At first, the collapse in demand led to mass layoffs by cruise lines, airlines, hotel groups and other businesses that depend on travel. Once the health risks receded, the sudden increase in demand caught many travel businesses off guard. Supply chain issues, soaring energy costs, severe delays and understaffing have contributed to months of traveler misery that has only recently eased.
Despite the bumpy roads, travelers are apparently not intimidated by their travels, according to a new report on the surprising strength of the travel industry.
Travel surpasses pre-pandemic highs
Industry news portal Skift’s monthly Travel Health Index report for April 2023 shows that travel has fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
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The Travel Health Index uses data from 22 partners on 84 travel indicators to measure the performance of the travel industry. As of April 2023, the global index is 101, 100 higher than the April 2019 benchmark rating. This is also an increase of 2% compared to March 2023.
At its nadir in the early days of the pandemic, the Travel Health Index fell to 20 in April 2020, suggesting travel performance had fallen to 20% of April 2019 levels.
Three years later, the index has rebounded and even set new records, surpassing the previous high set in 2019. “Skift Research reports a full recovery in travel, with the Travel Health Index now topping 100, suggesting that the global travel industry is now doing better than it did before the pandemic,” wrote Skift’s Andrea Doyle.
Unequal returns from global travel
The biggest winner of the global travel recovery is Latin America, the region that has been most resilient during the pandemic. Mexico’s impressive travel rebound accelerated into early 2022, with the larger region starting to outperform its pre-pandemic performance.
The Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions also finally surpassed pre-pandemic travel levels in April 2023. Meanwhile, North America and Europe are making progress but still not fully recovering.Overall, as of April 2023, 13 of 22 countries tracked have exceeded 2019 levels
The real outliers among developed destinations are Russia (63%) and Hong Kong (77%), whose lagging performance is dragging down the global index. The deterioration in Russian tourism is likely a product of the ongoing war in Ukraine, leading to widespread “do not travel” warnings and businesses leaving. Meanwhile, factors including draconian pandemic restrictions and democratic setbacks can all be attributed to Hong Kong’s travel woes.
How travelers can save money in a costly recovery
Travel is hotter than ever, as millions of people shake off pandemic hesitation entirely and embrace tourism and business travel. But vacation costs are still going up. Since 2019, air tickets alone have increased by 25% year-on-year, and hotel prices have increased by 13% globally. The following tips from Kiplinger contributor Becca van Sambeck can help you save money when planning a vacation, even if prices go up beyond your budget:
- Plan your trip early, no later than 28 days before departure
- Consider location flexibility to maximize savings
- Consider camping and cabins instead of hotels
- Travel with a group to reduce the average cost of accommodation
- Use these credit card points and airline miles